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Sabian Vault Artisan Ride Cymbals

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Sabian’s Vault line of cymbals was developed during one of its cymbal-making demonstration tours, where the company visits drum shops, brings in hammering and lathing machinery and manufactures cymbals on the spot. It’s fascinating to watch, but more than that, it allows attendees to have cymbals custom made to their specifications. The most interesting, musical and popular models from this tour were used to create Sabian’s Vault cymbal line. New to this line are five Artisan ride cymbals that are reminiscent of the best classic jazz rides. Sabian describes these as “Super-Premium” traditional cymbals. My wallet didn’t like the sound of that, but my ears definitely did. (The 20-inch rides list for $600; the 22s for $700.) These limited-availability cymbals ran the gamut from polite and refined to explosive and a bit trashy.

Sabian sent me light and medium 20- and 22-inch rides for the review. I tried the 20-inch light ride first, though initially I thought it might be the medium ride based on its weight and thickness. But its deep pitch and mysterious harmonics immediately gave it away. This cymbal was the rudest of the bunch. It has a complex, dark wash with some almost oriental overtones, like some of the cymbals from Sabian’s Hand Hammered line. The surface of the cymbal reveals ripples from the hammering process, and it feels a bit like a car hood after a nasty hailstorm. Light shoulder crashes revealed a little clang along with the crash, but it was rich and deep. When crashed strongly, the cymbal responds quickly and sounds a little harsh, though not unmusical. Brushes and dowel rod bundles yielded good results when riding, too, though obviously with less overtone buildup. Its bell isn’t terribly “bell-like,” having lots of unusual overtones, but it has an interesting sound of its own. I found that larger sticks worked better for playing Latin cascara patterns on this bell. Overall, this cymbal is very musical, but it’s also explosive and wild. With its wash and overtones, it would probably make a great secondary crash/ride.

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